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This week in the ACC: Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale shine as the conference’s top WNBA Draft prospects

Also, Louisville, NC State and Virginia Tech put their undefeated records on the line as ACC conference play begins this week.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four-Louisville vs Mississippi State
Asia Durr and the Louisville Cardinals look to remain undefeated with ACC play starting on Thursday.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a slate full of non-conference games, the ACC heads to conference play beginning Thursday. It is also a good time for the best players in the country to start asserting themselves from the rest of the pack.

The top two players in the ACC so far are Louisville senior guard Asia Durr and Notre Dame senior guard Arike Ogunbowale. Both are also the conference’s leading scorers after the conclusion of non-conference play, both averaging over 22 points per game. And both are likely first round picks in this year’s WNBA Draft.

Of the two seniors, Durr could be a lottery pick in next year’s WNBA Draft, and she was also in consideration for the Team USA FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup Team. This season, Durr isn’t just scoring consistently — she has at least 11 points in every game — but she is also making more plays as a passer, averaging a career high 3.5 assists per game while turning over the ball at a career-low 1.5 times per game.

In fact, Durr has dished at least three or more assists in every game since a Nov. 9 win against Chattanooga. Durr will not be a full-time WNBA point guard, but her ability to make plays passing the ball will still be an asset for any team that drafts her.

Ogunbowale is known for her heroics in last year’s NCAA Tournament and is a great scorer (23.1 points per game) in her own right. But she is a 5-foot-8-inch “tweener” shooting guard who is a bit short to play against most wings in the WNBA. Most WNBA shooting guards are closer to 6 feet tall.

Height hasn’t stopped Ogunbowale from putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. She scored 30 or more points four times this season, including a 32-point performance on Dec. 22 against Marquette. She is also a strong rebounder (5.5 per game) at the guard position, which includes her ten-rebound performance against UConn in Notre Dame’s lone loss on Dec. 2.

Though Ogunbowale is making 49.1 percent of her shots, she isn’t a sharpshooter, only making 29.3 percent of her three-point shots. Ogunbowale’s ability to score points should make her a first-round pick, but she will probably fall outside the top four.

Games of the week

Virginia Tech Hokies (13-0) at Miami Hurricanes (12-3)

When: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Watsco Arena, Coral Gables, FL | TICKETS

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The Hokies head down to southern Florida to play a Miami team that was ranked until just recently. Virginia Tech is already ranked No. 25 in the coaches’ poll and could find themselves ranked in the AP Poll once this weekend is finished.

Duke Blue Devils (8-4) at No. 9 NC State Wolfpack (13-0)

When: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Valvano Arena, Raleigh, NC | TICKETS

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The Blue Devils have won two in a row heading into their first ACC game. They will face a tough test right away as they travel to face intrastate rival NC State. Duke also hasn’t played often as the underdog against NC State in quite some time.

No. 3 Louisville Cardinals (12-0) at Duke Blue Devils (8-4)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC | TICKETS

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The Cardinals will finish a weekend in the North Carolina research triangle in Durham after playing the North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday. If Duke wins both games against the Wolfpack and the Cardinals, they could find themselves back in the conversation as a ranked team. For Louisville, this game is a rematch of a close 66-60 win they had last year over the Blue Devils. Durr suffered an ankle injury and had to be carried off the court in the first half, but she did come back and score 22 points in a hard-fought victory. Durr and the Cardinals will be looking to win the game at full strength this time.

Elsewhere in the ACC

ACC schedule and results